Author - Freckle

Interview with a Freckle: Jacquie Synnott

 Jacquie is the newest member of the Freckle team. Following her job interview and getting settled in, we thought we would sit down with her for an 'unterview', and get to know the person behind the CV.

Jacquie is the newest member of the Freckle team. Following her job interview and getting settled in, we thought we would sit down with her for an 'unterview', and get to know the person behind the CV.

What do you tell people you do at awkward speed networking events?

I manage the daily workflow between our designers and clients, ensuring all jobs are looked after and effectively run from start to finish. When I’m not doing this, I’m probably at home taking photos of my cat.

If you weren't at Freckle, where would you be?

Before Freckle I was working as a full time Graphic Designer at a large Australian architecture firm called Architectus; creating in-house visual communication pieces including HR campaigns and property marketing collateral.

During this time (and for some time before!), I wanted nothing more than to work in production management, at a small branding agency and focus on freelance graphic design projects in my spare time. When the opportunity at Freckle arose, I grabbed it!

What are your greatest strengths and ‘quirknesses’?

My strengths lie in the technical aspects of design. From creating technical drawings to technical spreadsheets… I enjoy the methodical process of design problem solving.

I also know my way around a table-top hand loom! All thanks to a bad flu and access to YouTube just over 3 years ago, I’m now a proficient hand weaver. I guess you could call this my greatest ‘quirkness’!

Who aren't you?

Out of all the things in life that I am not, I would have to say I am not the type of person who confuses purple for blue.

Where do you see yourself in 5 minutes?

Replying to 3 emails at the same time, whilst dreaming of dumplings for dinner.

... 5 days?

Planning a trip to South East Asia to make the dumplings a reality!

Are you a Mac or a PC? Dog or cat? Tea or coffee?

I am a cat sipping on a takeaway coffee in front of a MacBook, and I know many people who can vouch for this.

What could Freckle clients ask you about, that you could expertly talk about for three hours?

Around two years ago I worked at a creative production design studio in London specializing in the design and installation of retail window displays and pop-up shops. This is during the time when my love for production design blossomed. If a Freckle client was to ask me about the creative production involved in an event or retail space, spanning from signage to installation manuals to props, I would be able to chew their ear off on the topic! Firing off questions such as “Is it legible? Is that at eye level? Is it adjustable??” so on and so forth…

What will your ‘Freckfest’ talk be titled?

With all the construction and general development happening in Sydney as of late, I’ve become extremely interested in urban design within big cities. I think I would base my Freckfest talk on a great book I’m reading called Happy City by Charles Montgomery. This isn’t set in stone though; you’ll have to wait to find out!

Are we alone in the universe?

Thoughts, ponderings and infinite questions by Jim, Senior Designer

 Space is big. Really big.

Space is big. Really big.

Grab a cuppa, settle in and join me as I take you on a warp-speed journey into space, the universe or more specifically, some of the theories that surround the question: are we really alone? 

Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Adams was right. There are 400 billion stars in our galaxy alone and 170 million galaxies in the observable universe. Astronomers estimate that there are 70 sextillion stars in the known Universe. Try wrapping your mind around that.

Space is big, so big that when Stephen Hawking tells us it’s endless, we’re happy to accept the fact and get on with our lives. Or are we? Delve a little deeper, and you’ll discover humanity isn’t comfortable with the idea that space is endless. And that we might be completely alone in this vast void probably concerns us even more.

So, are we alone?

We've pondered the nature and size of space, and our position in it for many thousands of years. But, it’s only in relatively modern times that we’ve tried to address some of the big questions with mathematics and science.

One of the first people to tackle this was an Italian physicist called Enrico Fermi who, in the 1950s, formally posed his famous question, commonly known as The Fermi Paradox.

Put simply; the Fermi Paradox raises two completely contradictory observations.
If the greater Universe is indeed infinite, then it stands to reason that there must be an infinite number of habitable worlds with intelligent civilisations living on them. 

This is an absolute mathematical certainty. 

If that's the case... where is everyone?

In 1961 one of the founding members of the SETI Institute, Frank Drake, decided he was just as uncomfortable with the concept of infinite space as everyone else and attempted to address the contradiction of The Fermi Paradox once and for all.

He set out to calculate the possibility of intelligent life arising, flourishing and, crucially, communicating in our galaxy. To do this, he scaled down the scope of things to something our human brains could more easily fathom.

The Drake Equation uses eight variable factors including:

  • the rate of formation of stars in our galaxy;
  • the likely percentage of those stars supporting planets in a habitable zone, i.e. not too close or too far from its sun, with water and atmosphere; and
  • the likely percentage of those planets sustaining the necessary molecules to spark life.

The Drake Equation rather optimistically calculates that there are between 5000 and one billion intelligent communities capable of interstellar communication in our galaxy alone.

Obviously, these are huge variations in outcomes, but even at a minimum, you’d still expect there to be someone close by, right?

Well, not necessarily.

Scientists are a pretty pessimistic bunch, and they don’t believe anything until they have evidence, can examine it and prove its existence.

UFOs, Chariots of the Gods, the Nazca Plains Markings, Project Bluebook... they’re all fantasies to scientists, and they've come up with a whole bunch of theories to explain why we are essentially alone!

These numerous theories are collectively known as filters. Check these out and see if you agree.

1. Intelligent civilisations are just too far apart

If space is infinite, we might simply be too far away from one another to make contact. We’ve sent probes into space declaring our whereabouts and the nature of our species. However, by the time anyone or anything receives our messages, humankind may have been extinct for millions of years. Similarly, signals we receive from deep space - and we’ve come tantalisingly close on a few occasions - may have been transmitted by long-dead civilisations.

2. It’s too dangerous to communicate

I love this theory, and so does Stephen Hawking. Think about this: whenever civilisations with differing technologies have met on Earth, the results have always been disastrous. Think about what happened with settlers in North America, South America and Australia.

Perhaps it might be in our best interest to keep quiet and stop trumpeting our presence to the galaxy. After all, there may be hugely intelligent and malevolent species out there that thrive on enslaving everyone and everything they encounter. What if the galaxy teems with beings and they’re all thinking, “Shut the f*s# up Earth! You’ll blow our cover!”

3. The Zoo Hypothesis

This one is plain rude! Earth might simply be a biological oddity allowed to exist for the amusement of higher beings, like a reality TV show. We’re all a little bit dumb, and nobody wants to have a conversation with us any more than we want to have a chat with a sloth.

4. The Simulation Theory

Nothing is real. Everything we experience is an elaborate imaginary construct... you've all seen The Matrix.

5. Aliens are real, and they’re already here!

If you've ever seen a sci-fi movie like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing, The Fiend Without a Face, etc. then you'll be familiar with this idea, too.

The list goes on.

But the most compelling argument, in my opinion, is known as:

The Great Filter

The Great Filter theory was first proposed by Robin Hansen in the late 1990s and has since become perhaps the most compelling argument for why we might never reach the stars.
Essentially, it can be defined as a pivotal event in the development of a civilisation that brings about its devolution into a less civilised state, or its destruction.

In other words, all civilisations will fiddle around too much with science and blow themselves up.

By definition, any advanced civilisation can only achieve intelligence through its quest for knowledge and territory, and its need to procreate and expand.

This is the one constant of The Drake Equation that we know we can apply to any civilisation, be it our own or any alien civilisation in the Universe.

If single-celled microbial life evolves anywhere in the Universe, just as it did here on Earth 3.7 billion years ago, it will immediately begin to multiply and compete for space and sustenance. If that single-celled life succeeds and evolves into multi-cellular lifeforms, it must develop sexual reproduction techniques and therefore must develop an inclination to compete for compatible lifeforms with which to share its DNA.

This inclination inevitably leads to a quest for dominance even in non-sentient creatures. All creatures strive to dominate the best territory to feed, mate and spawn. It’s the absolute driving principle behind all life, human or otherwise.

All life is hard-wired to compete, to question and to wage war for territory and resources, and it's considered by many to be inevitable that our inquisitive nature, devious intelligence, greed and territoriality will either wipe us out or prove to be the greatest test of our evolution.

Some believe we've already passed the test with two World Wars, while others predict it's in our (near?) future. But if we can pass the test with our knowledge and technology intact, then we may well be able to unlock the secrets of the Universe.

Or perhaps we might discover that there’s nobody out there. After all, it's no more impossible than the impossible size of space.

I'd like to bookend this little article with another perfect quote from Douglas Adams who once again beat science at its own game when he wrote:

It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this, it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.

Thanks for reading!

Freckle’s War On Waste

war_on_waste@1x.jpg

I went to Africa a few years ago. We rode a truck from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania out into the Masai Mara. As we entered a small town on the edge of the National Park, we were greeted by the Masai locals - a beautiful race of people. The warm, orange sun crept slowly toward the horizon and the local kids cast long shadows as they herded their goats back to their village. And, drifting along in the warm breeze between the kids, the livestock and the acacia trees were hundreds of bright white plastic bags, empty water bottles, coke cans, crisp packets, cigarette packets, Mars bar wrappers, containers, newspapers and toilet rolls.

In amongst so much natural beauty, there was SO. MUCH. MESS. “What are you doing?” I wanted to shout out to the Masai. And then, I realised that we are no different over here. In Australia we produce 50 million tonnes of waste every year. Of that 50 million tonnes, 12.5 million tonnes is being produced by Australian workplaces. That’s about around 23 wheelie bins per worker per year! So in an office of eight people we are wheeling out 184 bins of waste. In fact, the only difference between the Masai and us is a garbage bin. We clean our waste away so it’s out of sight and OUT. OF. MIND. But the thing is, it’s not gone. Just forgotten.

This got me thinking, I can’t fix Africa, but what can I do in my patch?  Well, I've decided to set us a challenge: To reduce our office landfill-bound waste to one small shopping bag a week by Christmas. Yes, that’s right: from two 50-litre bags to one small shopping back per week. We’re looking at reducing our waste by about 75%. It’s huge.

collage - war on waste.jpg

Here are the three things I think we could focus on to start:

1. Recycling.

Freckle's strata don’t provide recycling facilities so I’m going to create a bag so I can take our recycling home with me once every week or two. This means I’m going to care a great deal about how much paper we use. I’ll also pull together a poster that shows us which plastics can be recycled so it makes it easy for us to get it right.

2. Eat or repeat.

Like Mum always said: “There are starving people in Africa.” It’s true, but there are two million starving people in Australia as well. I believe the key here is: Don’t buy more than you need, and if you do, store it properly so you don’t have to throw it out after one day. Obviously, some bits of food we can’t eat, so I’ll be ‘repeating’ them. Yes, I’m saying we should start our very own Freckle worm farm.

3. Multi-use. Reuse, Repurpose, Upcycle.

If we make something, let’s aim to keep it in the system for as long as possible. This goes for projects we do for clients as well. And once that something has become useless, let’s try to find another use for it.

I also think we could make a real effort to print double-sided. I know we do already, but it’s worth noting that for every 100 reams of paper printed double sided, we can save about one cubic metre of landfill, a tonne of greenhouse gas, and a couple of trees. Not to mention a 50% dollar saving for the business.

Finally, let’s not use it in the first place. Plastic bags are a good start. So, for our garbage let’s start using bags that are already in the system, instead of buying new ones. I know, plastic bags are bad, but practicality and hygiene in a work environment means that we have to be smart about it. And, of course, coffee cups … I ran some numbers. If eight of us have one takeaway coffee a day, that’s 1,440 cups a year – more than 20kg of waste. Hands up, who needs a reusable cup? How about we order them this week?

Let’s do this together. Over the coming months, I’m sure we can all come up with ways we can make our 83sqm a more pleasant place to be.

There are plenty of resources out there to help. One worth having a look at is Business Recycling. It is run by Planet Ark and NSW EPA and provides loads of information to help businesses reduce their impact on waste generation.

Just because we can’t see rubbish, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Rather than figuring out new ways to deal with our waste, how about we stop creating it in the first place?

What are your top tips for reducing waste in the workplace?

Want to know more? Here are some fantastic resources about waste and what we can do about it:

 

OzHarvest

The Conversation

Foodwise

Business Recycling

EPA